Nov 12 2012
HANO Negotiating to Purchase Israel Augustine Middle School, Redevelop It into Youth Career Center
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Richard A. Webster
November 08, 2012 at 4:22 PM, updated November 10, 2012 at 3:16 PM
The Housing Authority of New Orleans announced this week it is in the process of purchasing the former Israel Augustine Middle School on Broad Street, and will convert the massive pink building into a career development and training center for low-income youth, most of who live in public housing. The deal with the Orleans Parish School Board is expected to be completed in the coming months.
HANO.jpeg The Housing Authority of New Orleans is in negotiations to purchase the Israel Augustine Middle School, which it will renovate and turn into a career development center for young adults. Richard A. Webster, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The building, which sits near the Orleans Parish Criminal Courthouse, will require extensive renovations after sitting empty since Hurricane Katrina.
“There are times with some of these old buildings where we can sell them to developers and they would be willing to pay more than the appraised value,” said Stan Smith, Interim Superintendent with the Orleans Parish School Board. “But in a situation like this, where we have the opportunity to retain this community asset for an essential public use and still recover fair value for it, that’s a win-win situation.”
The career center will be geared towards disenfranchised youth who are not on the proper career track, said Esther Shin, executive vice president of Urban Strategies based in St. Louis.
“It’s preparing young people for the world of work and long-term career success.”
Urban Strategies will manage the program which, in addition to job training in a variety of fields, will offer services such as mentoring, job coaching and placement, social and psychological support, substance abuse counseling, transportation and child care.
The center will also include business incubators and partnerships with trade unions that can offer internships that could lead to permanent jobs.
Since the building won’t be available for at least a year, two pilot programs will begin in January at the Youth Empowerment Project in Central City and the Sojourner Truth Community Center in the Lafitte neighborhood. They will accommodate up to 100 people annually before expanding to 1,000 when the Augustine facility is ready, Shin said.
“This is not going to be a cheap endeavor but it’s pretty significant in terms of a service model and we want to do it right,” she said.
HANO will initially provide the bulk of the funding for the project which should attract additional investors, said HANO’s administrative receiver David Gilmore. If successful, the project should benefit the entire city.
“We’re talking about people who through this effort will eventually rejoin the job market, start to pay tax dollars, maybe even buy blighted homes and fix them up. Who knows?” Gilmore said. “But everybody would acknowledge there is a serious need particularly among poor people to get the skills and opportunities necessary to get them into careers. This is a critical piece of business for us.”
Source: The Times-Picayune
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